Results of the world’s biggest election due tomorrow
People belonging to minorities, especially the Muslims in India, are fearing the return to power of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which is predicted to win the elections by almost all the exit polls on Sunday, the day of completion of seven-phase marathon Indian polls that started on April 11.
Given the history of wrong predictions made by exit polls on many occasions in India, people will have to wait until tomorrow, the day the votes will be counted and the results will be declared, to know if the BJP-led NDA in India retains power in the centre.
Speaking to members of religious minority communities in West Bengal, Assam, Tripura and Meghalaya, which share borders with Bangladesh, between May 12 and May 20, Dhaka Tribune got an impression that the minorities were hoping that BJP would not return to power.
They mentioned that minorities, especially the Muslims, had suffered in many ways during the right-wing alliance’s rule over the last five years.
Specifically, they have problem with the very man at the helm, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, also the former chief minister of Gujrat where many Muslims were killed in riots during his time.
The individuals also said that dozens of Muslims were lynched on the suspicion of consuming or eating beef during the last five years of Modi rule. There were many instances of different kinds of harassments against the minorities including forceful conversion of people to Hinduism. There has also been a significant rise in Hindu extremism against the minorities, especially the Muslims.
And, the government has been always lenient in dealing with the Hindu extremism and against the perpetrators of crimes committed against the minorities, they said.
All of these have been possible for the unwavering support of the Modi-led government to the promotion of Hindu nationalism.
Cow more valuable than humans
“The return of Narendra Modi to power is the last thing I will want. I do hope that these exit polls are wrong,” Tanvir Raja, who is from Bihar, but drives a taxi in Kolkata, told this correspondent on Monday, the day after the elections.
“I am scared as we have witnessed so many oppressions and harassments in last five years. All the minority people face problems. But, in India, the Muslims suffer the most,” he said.
“For BJP government a cow is more valuable than a human being. What can you expect from a government like this?” he added.
“In India it’s a crime to belong to a minority, be it Muslim or a Christian like me. Here under the BJP government, a cow is more precious than a person,” a man in his mid thirty identified as Stephen said in Kolkata.
“The conditions of the Muslims are bit better in West Bengal as the state has been governed by the left and Trinamool Congress for a long time. The left government did not hold any Hindu extremist views. Neither does the Trinamool government,” said a West Bengal government official, requesting anonymity.
“Both the left and Trinamool also thought about more than 25% of the votes the Muslims have in the state. It’s a bitter reality. Muslim vote banks have always been used by parties across the country,” said the official.
“And, everywhere, including in your country, minorities are worse off than the majorities. Things could only improve when every citizen will be treated equally. In an uneducated and unaware society of ours, it will take a long time for this to happen,” the official added.
“Look, we, the minorities, have always been at the receiving end. More or less, the scenario is the same almost everywhere in the world. Having admitted that, I have to say that as compared with previous regimes, the last five years were far worse,” said Abdul Karim, from Guwahati, the capital of Assam, the largest state in the northeastern India.
“Only minorities can understand the pain of being minorities under a BJP government. You won’t understand,” he said.
“I don’t want a BJP government yet again because of what they did to us in last five years,” said Mohammad Hassan of Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya.
“Yes, I will support a BJP government if it can govern considering all the citizens of this country as equals,” he said.
“During the tenure of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), led by Manik Sarker, we were good. But, after the assumption of power by the BJP government in Agartala more than a year ago, things have started to get bad,” Abul Basher of Agartala said, adding, “Minorities will suffer. That’s the harsh reality. We have no choice but to accept it.”